Most Germans believe investigation into racism in police force is ‘needed’

Most Germans believe investigation into racism in police force is 'needed'
A Black Lives Matter demonstration in Berlin on July 18th 2020. Photo: DPA
The majority of people in Germany think a probe into the issue of racism in the German police force is necessary, according to a new poll.

It comes despite Interior Minister Horst Seehofer once again rejecting calls for a study into police racism.

In the latest in a series of incidents involving police in Germany, 29 officers were suspended in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia last week for sharing far-right images on WhatsApp.

Investigators found at least five private WhatsApp chat groups that contained well over 100 neo-Nazi images, including photos of Hitler and a fictional depiction of a refugee in a gas chamber.

Seehofer described the incident as a “punch in the gut” but insisted that the overwhelming majority of German police officers believed in the principles of the German constitution.

Now a new poll by Spiegel has found the population sees things differently.

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Almost 55 percent of Germans consider a study on racism within the police force necessary, according to the survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of Spiegel.

Between September 18th and 21st, more than 5,000 people gave their opinion on whether they consider it necessary for the federal government to commission a study on racism within the police. Around 39 percent of those questioned answered the question with “no, absolutely not” or “probably not”.

In almost all age groups the majority are in favour of an investigation into this issue. The most supporters come from the group of over 65s and 18 to 29 year olds. In the over 65s group, around 60 percent of respondents are in favour of it, while in the younger age group, over 58 percent want a probe to go ahead.

The age groups between 40 and 49 and between 50 and 64 are also close together in their stance. In both cases, more than 54 percent consider an investigation into racism within the police force necessary.

But the figures are comparatively low among 30 to 39 year olds. In this group only about 45 percent answered 'yes' to the question whether they consider an investigation necessary.

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Supporters of political parties divided

There are clear differences between supporters of political parties. About 80 percent of centre-left Social Democrat supporters consider a racism probe in the police to be needed. Among supporters of the Greens and the Left Party (Die Linke), the figure is even higher, at over 80 percent.

Only about a third of pro-business Free Democrats supporters, on the other hand, want this kind of study. And only about five percent of Alternative for Germany (AfD) supporters consider a probe on racism in the police force necessary.

The decision about the study would have to be made by Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union-led Interior Ministry. So far, however, Interior Minister Seehofer, of the Bavarian CSU (the sister party of CDU), rejects this idea.

Instead he wants a broader approach “for the whole society”. This does not necessarily reflect the opinion of CDU/CSU supporters, though. They are divided on the question whether a racism study is needed in Germany. Some 46 percent answered “yes” to the question, about 47 percent said “no” and about seven percent are undecided.

READ ALSO: Germany 'not doing enough to fight racism' as country sees rise in reported discrimination cases

Vocabulary

Majority of Germans/the population – Mehrheit der Deutschen/Bevölkerung

Racism in the police (force) – Rassismus in der Polizei

Necessary – notwendig

Undecided – unentschieden

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  1. When I visited Germany in 2017 I remember very well the way the policeman in charge with checking passports stared at me and my family. This was the welcome reception we tourists have. He stared with disgust to me and my family with no intention to hide it. I think he would harm us if he could. It was pure evilness in his eyes. When I read this I remembered every moment of this situation my wife, my 9 years old kid and me had to face. I do believe you have police involved with far right. Im from Brazil and will someday return to visit this beautiful country despite this disgraceful situation.

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